An old machine sits patiently in disrepair on the floor by the window. One of the wooden panels is ajar and the early morning light has bled through the gap and is now creeping up the side of the machine, like it does every day and has done for as long as the machine remembers. Where the light meets the shiny components of the machine it is warm and before too long it will be hot to the touch.

As routinely as the sun itself rising, the bird will soon appear, like it does everyday and has done for as long as the machine remembers. It will fly to the ledge of the window, keenly scan the room for any danger, before drifting down to the floor by the machine where it will stay collecting its warmth; its feathers nestled in their embrace.

Heavy footsteps scatter the snow as she walks, clumsily away from the warmth and into the darkness. For a moment she props her weight against an old dying tree and breathes deeply, shaking her head in the out-breath and clutching her waist. Is she hurt? She can’t be sure. After several minutes she glances back and takes one final look. She won’t be back here again. The night is long, and the wanderer has far to go.
Though the wanderer walks through familiar woodland the lack of light brings her confusion and disorientation. Flashes and visions illuminate the blackness before her. The trees bear no leaves, no indication, no guidance for her to rely on. Still, she moves on; pushing her way through with disregard of any pain sharp and jagged branches might provide. Her mind a fortress being built all the while. Behind her veiled emotions, there are things are work; bricks are being leveled, the foundations going deeper and deeper each step she makes further into the darkness. Soon, the wall will be so deep, and so high that the monster that scratches from the other side will be a forgotten memory. The wanderer will stand, palms pressed against her wall submitting to the cold that binds it. She will weep, but for what the tears roll she will not know. The wall will be both her solace and her bastille. But, for now, the wall is incomplete, and the monster still lurks just beyond the trees behind her, hiding in the warmth.

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